5 Ingredient Taboule

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It’s summmmaaatime! Okay, well after this weekend it is. Pull out your white pants and gingham, because Memorial Day is upon us! I whipped up this super simple 5 ingredient “taboule” that is the perfect vegan/gluten-free dish to bring to your Mem Day BBQ or just eat all week like it ain’t no thang (as I did – none of this taboule salad made it to see the weekend, nom nom!). Instead of the usual suspects bulgur and couscous, quinoa is used as the grain here, and is complemented by chopped fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley. Drizzle that sucker with some olive oil and you have a super simple, super delicious, fresh-tasting summer dish. The best part about this dish is that with simplicity comes options – you can jazz it up any way you see fit. Add avocado and feta, garlic and lemon, or rice vinegar and onions and turn this basic into anything you want. I keep it in its default state until I’m ready to eat it, and then add whatever I’m feeling to jazz it up – or nothing, as it’s pretty damn good by itself. It’s also a great day when you can add a scoop of this to top of your usual lunch salad, stick it in a veggie sandwich, eat it as a side dish with dinner, or throw some Gardin Chick’n Strips right on top and call it a day. So, here we go!

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Everything you need: quinoa, tomatoes, parsley, cucumber, olive oil. Seriously, that’s it.

5 Ingredient Taboule

Ingredients:

1 cup of quinoa

2 cups of water

1 1/3 cups of grape tomatoes, halved

1 large English cucumber, diced

1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Step One: Cook your quinoa. Add 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add quinoa, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes, or until the germ has begun to separate from the seed. Want more tips? Check out this amazing How to Cook Quinoa article – they’ve got all the good ones.
Step Two: Prep your veggies. Slice those tomatoes in half, dice the cuke and roughly chop up your parsley. Place into a large bowl. Done. Now you can go file your nails, shake your booty to Rihanna’s BBHMM or sit at your kitchen table and enjoy a glass of vino with your boo (or solo) while you’re waiting for the quinoa to be done.
Step Three: Combine. Once the quinoa is cooked, add it to the large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. YUM.
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All of the ingredients just mellowing out and ready to be eaten.

Step Four: Enjoy, beauts! πŸ˜€

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I devoured my first bowl of taboule completely plain-o and it was delicious. The freshness of the cucumber and tomato really pop when they are balanced by such simple flavors – so gooood!! I brought several portions for lunch this week, and added a little vinegar to give it a bit of a zip and it was fantastic. There isn’t much you can’t add here – just about everything tastes amazing with this simple flavor combination. YUM. I really hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do.

Happy Thursday, everyone! Almost to the *LONG* weekend! πŸ˜‰

With warmth,

L

Green Citrus Smoothie

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Good morning!! Happy Hump Day – we all made it halfway through the week! As some of you know, I will be traveling to Florida in only two days time and I couldn’t be more excited. Since I am obviously a mermaid (*hair flip*), you can understand why my return to the Gulf is so exciting. πŸ˜‰ This week (my first week of Veganuary!), I did something out of the ordinary – I bought oranges at the grocery store! Probably the only food that weirds me out (beyond the creepy mushrooms my sister sometimes buys) is PULP. I don’t love it. If I am faced with eating an orange, I will “vampire” the juice (a la Bill and Sookie) and spit out the languid, pulpy wedge (so ladylike, I know). Oddly enough, I LOVE citrus juice. For years, my cocktail of choice was a screwdriver (and I have all the abandoned Nalges with a faint odor of orange juice and vodka, that no amount of dishwashing will remove, to prove it. Hey, when you’re a girl who doesn’t like beer, you’ve gotta be resourceful). I dislike pulp so much that I would rather give a mimosa the side eye than drink it, if it is made with pulpy orange juice (why would someone do something that unspeakably cruel to me, I do not know. I loooooove mimosas!).

So now that we’ve established the depths of my hatred for pulp, you can understand how surprising it is that I would pick up a few oranges at the grocery store. I decided it was high time for me to overcome this aversion and hostility – one baby step at a time. I figured I can start off slow, by blending them into my favorite thing on Earth: smoothies. We all love smoothies, they are clearly the best. By now, you may know that I have a little bit of a problem with smoothies (and all of the many varieties). To create this particular smoothie, I blended the orange together with three things I really like: baby spinach, unsweetened vanilla coconut milk and cinnamon. It sounds like an unlikely combination, I know, but it was AMAZING. The coconut milk gives a smooth creaminess, the baby spinach is very mild and the orange gives a gorgeous pop and brightness to the smoothie. The cinnamon, of course, is the little spice that could – it makes everything better, and here it lends a little spicy kick. This smoothie was just what I needed – healthy, full of nutrients and flavor, and the orange makes you dream of sunshine and sand under your toes, even when it’s 15 degrees outside. It’s so simple, and it’s vegan, gluten-free and DELICIOUS!

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The five simple ingredients you need for L’s Green Citrus Smoothie: Spinach, oranges, cinnamon, unsweetened vanilla coconut milk and dates (optional – if you need a little extra sweetness).

Green Citrus Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 orange*, peeled
  • handful of baby spinach (~3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Β Directions

  • Add all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth. Enjoy! πŸ˜€
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All of the “dry” ingredients in the NutriBullet before blending. I stuffed as much baby spinach as possible in there.

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The amount of cinnamon I added for reference. I never really measure this, but guesstimate – I loooooove cinnamon, so I would add whatever suits your tastes.

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I added quite a bit of unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, probably more than half a cup. Adjust the amount depending on whether you like your smoothies thick or more juice-like – totally up to you! πŸ™‚

*I used Cara Cara oranges. They are a red-fleshed navel orange, sweet and low in acid with a flavor profile more complex than regular navels. Wikipedia says they “[have] been described as evoking notes of cherry, rose petal, orange, and blackberry.” Oooookay, Wikipedia, whatever you say – all I know is they are DELICIOUS, and so sweet that I didn’t need any additional sweetener. If you chose a different variety and your smoothie comes out a little bitter, throw one or two dates in there. That should sweeten it right up for ya. πŸ™‚

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The smoothie after blending πŸ™‚

Um, this smoothie is amazing. It’s so easy and probably takes 30 seconds to make once you peel the orange (and then your hands will smell lovely and orange-y for a bit). The flavor impact is unreal; when I blended it and had my first sip I actually said, “Wow!” aloud in my kitchen even though it was just me and the Nutribullet. The best part? You’ve fulfilled your Vitamin C requirements for the day, half of your Vitamin A, a quarter of your potassium and a third of your dietary fiber. Rock on. It’s fresh and deceptively filling – a great snack, breakfast smoothie or just for a special, fresh treat. Yum.

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Pour that sucker into a mason jar, stick a girthy straw in there and you’ve got yourself a winner. πŸ˜€

I hope that you guys enjoy this creation as much as I did – it is amazing (and if you close your eyes, you might just feel the sun beaming down on you, in the middle of January).

Sending you lots of sunshine today! Happy Wednesday! πŸ˜€

With warmth,

L ❀

PS: I went for a run last night in 18F and snow showers. It was fabulous (dead serious – I actually had a great run!). I recently got a bunch of run accessories to increase my nighttime visibility (both my friend and my bro-in-law called out my all black Ginga Ninja non-reflective winter run gear, and they were totally right – visibility is key in the winter!). If you’re interested, they will be making an appearance in my Friday Faves post. πŸ˜‰

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Rocking my sweet new gear. Also, my nails match my run pullover bc I’m cool like that. Happy Hump Day, all! πŸ˜€

Green Goddess Bowl

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L’s Green Goddess Bowl

What the KALE! It’s Monday already?! Alright so – there are a few things you should know. I am participating in Veganuary, so my normally vegetarian diet is getting amped up a notch to full vegan for the month of January (ok, I’m kind of cheating because I eat 97% vegan anyway but WHATEVS), that second half marathon I’ve been training for is 39 days away (aaaaah!) and I’m going to Florida in 4 days (yesssssss!). Thus, I wanted to start off Veganuary with a bang, and made this vegan and gluten-free dish inspired by my favorite super crunchy hippie haven, LifeAlive in Cambridge, MA (please do yourself a favor and check out their website – their tagline is, “You are entering a world of pleasure. A world of delicious, organic, and therapeutic food, created with love to feed your vitality.” YES PLEASE. Amazing). Basically, on New Year’s Day, after running my first ever 10K and kicking its ASS, I really, really wanted one of their bowls but was really, really comfortable in my bathrobe, ancient sweatpants and no bra situation (and did not feel like battling the hipsters for a place in line).

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Oh haaaaaaaayyy! That’s me, post-10K with a beet red face and all sweaty. Totally worth it, as I finished under 53 minutes at a pace of 8:29 min/mile. KILLED IT! Ginga ninja strikes again! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜› πŸ˜€

Thus, I decided it was high time to make up my own L approved version (and one that doesn’t exist on their menu), combining my favorite sauce with my favorite bowl and then adding in my own flair. First of all, if I do say so myself, this is more amazing than anything I’ve tasted from LifeAlive (maybe because I made it, but maybe because it just is DAMN GOOD). It is bursting with nutrients and the flavor is OOC (out of control, for those of you who are still catching onto my lingo). It is UNREAL. So unreal that after polishing off my first batch, I promptly made a second batch last night for this week. It combines my favorite cruciferous vegetables, kale and broccoli, with sprouted quinoa and sprouted lentils, then is topped off with a phenomenal (as in, you’re going to lick the spatula clean) ginger-tahini sauce. The sauce in and of itself is unbelievably delicious and combines ginger, tahini, lemon, tamari and garlic – pretty much all of my favorite flavors in one spot. Seriously: SO. FRIGGIN. GOOD. The best part – and pretty much the basis for all of the dishes on LIfe Alive’s menu – is that you can substitute any grain (brown rice, farro, millet, buckwheat, barley, amaranth – you name it) and your favorite vegetables (I’m not even going to really bother with this one because the choices are endless, but I think carrots, brussel sprouts, beets, or sweet potato would be awesome contenders) into an amazing, nutrient dense one-dish meal. I personally chose sprouted grains and legumes because of the nutritional benefits (they have higher proportions of other nutrients, like protein, vitamins, and minerals, compared to unsprouted grains). I don’t know if you’re even ready for this right now, but here we go!! πŸ˜‰

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All the ingredients for L’s Green Goddess bowl: ginger-tahini sauce, hemp seeds, sprouted quinoa, sprouted lentils, kale, broccoli, avocado.

L’s Green Goddess Bowl

Ingredients:

Bowl:

  • 1 cup of sprouted quinoa*
  • 1/2 cup of sprouted legumes*
  • 1 crown of broccoli
  • 1 small to medium bunch of kale
  • 1/3 cup of hemp seeds
  • 1 avocado, sliced, for topping

Sauce:

  • 2 – 3 inch ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of tahini
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons of tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or flax seed oil

*Sadly, my homegrown spouts weren’t ready in time to be used, so I bought these and cooked them according to package directions.

Directions:

Step One: Prepare the sauce. Combine all the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
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The sauce after blasting in the food processor. It still has some texture to it, but is mostly smooth and thick. If it’s too thick, add a little water or veggie broth to thin it to your desired consistency.

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The sauce in a 12-oz mason jar. You can make ahead and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Step Two: Prepare the quinoa and lentils. As mentioned above, I purchased these at the grocery store and prepared them according to the package directions. I added the quinoa to 1-1/2 cups of boiling water, stirred and allowed it to simmer for 12 minutes and rest for 5 minutes. I added the lentils to 1-1/2 cups of boiling water, stirred, allowed them to simmer for 6 minutes, and drained the excess water. I added both the lentils and the quinoa directly into a large bowl.
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The cooked quinoa and lentils in a large bowl, waiting to be mixed up into deliciousness.

Step Three: Prepare the veggies. I chopped both the kale and the broccoli into bite-sized pieces and steamed them for three minutes (sadly, my stellar convection steamer is in my parent’s basement, so I did this in two batches in a steaming basket).
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I chopped the crown of broccoli into bite-sized pieces for steaming.

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Look at the lovely steam rising off the kale – YUM! Steam the veggies for three minutes and allow to cool slightly before adding to the bowl.

Step Four: Combine. Once the veggies are done steaming, I allowed them to cool on regular dinner plates for a few minutes. Then, I stirred all the bowl components together before adding the sauce.
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Steamed kale resting for a few minutes on a dinner plate before adding it to the bowl.

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Quinoa, lentils and broccoli ready to be mixed up.

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Mix all the bowl ingredients thoroughly. Don’t forget to add the hemp seeds πŸ™‚

Step Five: Add the sauce. Drizzle all of the sauce over the bowl and give it a good stir.
Step Six: Add an extra squeeze of juice for a lemon wedge if desired and top off with a few avocado slices. Enjoy! πŸ˜€

Makes 4ish servings.

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Top the bowl off with some avocado slices and you have yourself the perfect Veganuary meal. πŸ˜€

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I eat all of my food like a garbage plate (hey, I’m from Western New York!) which means I combine all components of my food together and chow down like a champ. Lady like eating habits come out only in public if you’re lucky, otherwise I eat like a dude.

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….Less than five minutes later my plate looked like this. President of the Clean Plate Club! You may call me Ms. President. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰

When I first tasted this dish, I seriously thought, “Is this real life?” This dish is SOOOOOOO GOOD! I’m so glad I was feeling unmotivated to put real clothes on after my race and venture out, because this version is amazing and I will seriously eat all of that sauce directly out of the food processor right now, because YUM. Also, it was a phenomenal way to kick off Veganuary! So delicious! There is so much good stuff in there too, all in one place (the amount of vitamins, minerals and protein in there is a little mind-boggling – winnnnn!). I hope you guys enjoy this dish as much as I did, because DAMN it was tasty! And, I hope your first Monday of January is killllingggg itttttt. Sending you guys all kinds of vegan love to start your week πŸ˜€

Hope you all have fantastic days today! Happy Monday!

With warmth,

L ❀

Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale with Vegan Parmesan Cheeze

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale with Vegan Parmesan Cheeze

Last week I made a trip to my local farm stand and picked up locally-grown butternut squash and kale (I’m all about the local fruits/veggies, even if it is a little more expensive – you’ve gotta support your local farmers!). Besides apples, they were the only locally grown items I could find, and so I decided to combine them together into the perfect late fall/winter dish. I’m still on the whole “Thanksgiving detox” train where I want whole, fresh foods with lots of flavor without being rich or heavy. I decided to venture into relatively unknown territory, and make some vegan cheeze to sprinkle on top. I love trying new things, stepping outside of familiar territory and the further along I go on this blogging adventure, the deeper and deeper I go down the Vegan Rabbit Hole. Because some of my favorite people in the universe have allergies to some nuts, I made my vegan cheeze with almonds, hazelnuts and nutritional yeast as the main components (however, only after my dad mercilessly made fun of the fact that I was about to ingest something called “nutritional yeast”- lots of inapprop jokes followed which, I will do you a favor, and not re-post here). This dish was surprisingly easy, and I was (not gonna lie, I was prepared for the worst) pleasantly surprised as to how “cheesy” my vegan parm tasted! It was SO delicious, and it really elevated the flavor of the roasted veggies to something exceptional and very tasty.

This recipe has all of your fave qualities that you typically find on B&B: fast, easy, nutrient dense and SUPER flavorful. There really isn’t much to it (cooking skill-wise – I’m giving a hard look at you B, and all my readers who are a little cooking-challenged – you can DEF handle this one). πŸ˜‰ I will definitely be making this dish again for my family for the holidays, and will wait until after my dad has eaten an entire serving before I kindly inform him that he just ate nutritional yeast. πŸ˜‰ It would be a great additional to your holiday table – healthy, hearty and sure to be a crowd-pleaser because of the AMAZINGGG flavor. If you’re not down with the yeast, I would still make the topping sans yeast because the nuttiness is an excellent addition to the roasted veggies.

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Ingredients: Kale, butternut squash, shallot, hazelnuts, almonds and nutritional yeast.

Β Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale with Vegan Parmesan Cheeze

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, patted dry and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium-sized shallot, diced
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Step One: Prep your veggies. Peel and chop the butternut squash into 1″ chunks (Hint: make sure your knife is sharp enough, without a sharp edge, it will make prepping this squash a doozy). Dice the shallot. Make sure you give that kale a good rinse and either pat dry or put it into a salad spinner after roughly chopping.
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I tend to cut my squash off at the neck and peel the two pieces separately – that way, you have a flat surface to stand your squash on as you peel. (And you are less likely to chop one of your phalanges off – we all need those). πŸ˜‰

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I roughly chop mine into “fork-able” pieces, so the texture of the kale is still there, even after baking.

Step Two: Transfer your butternut squash and shallot into a shallow baking dish. Toss with a little bit of extra olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the pieces. Stick in the oven and roast at 400Β°F for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.
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Here’s the squash before baking. Make sure you toss the butternut squash and diced shallot well in the olive oil; that way, they won’t stick to the pan and make your life/clean-up a disaster. πŸ˜‰

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The squash after baking. These pieces were pretty done, so definitely check your squash after about 40 minutes of baking time. Give it a stir at least once during the baking time so that you are cooking all pieces evenly.

Step Three: Meanwhile, while your squash is roasting away and filling your kitchen will all sorts of delicious smells, make your cheeze. In a food processor (or even in a mini food processor, or personal size blender), combine the nuts, yeast, olive oil and salt. Blend until the cheeze becomes mixed and pretty well chopped but still retains some of the nutty texture.
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Cheeze ingredients in the blender. You can use other nuts if you’d like in place of the almonds/hazelnuts, like cashews or pecans, or if you’re totally nut-free you can substitute seeds like pumpkin seeds and sesame. Yum! All combos will be pretty bomb. πŸ˜€

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Cheeze after blending. As you can (hopefully) see here, there is still some of the nutty texture retained – it adds a nice crunch to the dish.

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Another close up of the cheeze – it makes a bunch, like two to three handfuls (sorry my measurements are not always cup and tablespoon related, but hey that’s just how I roll). πŸ˜‰

Step Four: Once your squash is done roasting, add the kale directly into the baking dish. Toss with the butternut squash to combine, and allow the kale to slightly wilt. Then, pour the cheeze mixture over the entire pan of veggies and toss to combine, until the cheeze is well distributed.
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The kale and butternut after baking, with the cheeze sprinkled on top. Make sure you give the veggies and cheeze a good toss to evenly distribute the cheeze. YUM!

Step Five: Turn the oven down to 350Β°F and place the butternut/kale mixture back into the oven for an additional 6 or so minutes. Be careful not to burn your “cheeze” (you wouldn’t want to bake it for more than 8 minutes).
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The kale and butternut after the second bake cycle, ready to be chomped!

Step Six: Enjoy!! πŸ˜€
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And voila! Butternut-y, kale-y cheeziness! YUMMMMM!!!

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I ate two plates worth, it was THAT good.

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Noms πŸ˜›

This dish is stellar. Even your omnivore friends will be down with this buttenut/kale/cheeze combo – it’s delicious. It’s a great side dish, or if you want this to be a major player, put over your fave grain like quinoa/farro/rice/pearl couscous/whatever and throw some L’s Best Baked Tofu Ever on the side. I ate mine with some leftover Spanish Style Lentils a la L that I made earlier this week – it was a fantastic, super healthy dinner (which I give at least partial responsibility to my supreme ass-kicking in 5:45 am bootcamp this morning – BOOYAH!). As for the “is the juice worth the squeeze?” rating, I would give it an 8 out of 10 for labor input to flavor output (if you use pre-chopped butternut squash, it would skyrocket to at least a 9, and if you’re wondering – only smoothies are ever a 10 out of 10 because there is no chopping involved). πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

Also (one last thought before I send this off to the interwebs) – why nutritional yeast? Well, nutritional yeast is a great vegan source of vitamin B12 (if it’s fortified). I use Bob’s Red Mill brand nutritional yeast which provides 133% of your daily value of B12 (it’s fortified with B vitamins). B12 is super important: it plays a key role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system and the formation of red blood cells (for all of us active, vegandos out there – we need it!). I actually just got a vegan multivitamin with a whoooole bunch of B12 in there for that reason (I went a little cray on Amazon Black Friday sale and bought like $50 worth of natural foods and vitamins. Don’t believe me? See my haul below). Another important guy for us veg folks is Vitamin D (I got some of that, too). Last year when I was tested in January during my annual physical, my vitamin D level was 7. Yup, that would be in the category of extremely deficient (which was alarming, and I had to take those super prescription-level of 50,000 IU of vitamin D for two weeks to bring my levels back to normal). Remember, I’m a fair redhead (which means I don’t leave the house without SPF 30) and I live in the Northeast. Everyone is different, but just wanted to put a little personal PSA from L out there for you all to ponder. Just sayin’. (Also, the Vitamin D Council offers a $50 in home testing kit – I found this from all my Googling to find the best vegan Vitamin D supplements, just in case your insurance really sucks or you don’t feel like seeing your doctor, or you’re fiercely independent and stubborn and science-y like me and just want to do it your DAMN self).

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L’s Amazon haul: Vegan vitamins, farro, nutritional yeast, a 4 pack of Museli, cocoa nibs (literally chased the UPS man up the hill on my street yesterday evening bc I was so excited about this package, oh and the butternut squash was already roasting – I needed that nutritional yeast!). PS: I ❀ Bob’s Red Mill with all my heart ❀ ❀ ❀

I hope you all have a fantastic day today!!! Enjoy this butternut/kale recipe – it f***ing RULES.

With warmth,

L ❀

Spanish Style Lentils Γ  la L

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Spanish Style Lentils Γ  la L: warm, comforting, nutrient rich!

Now that we are in that month or so that is happily smushed between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and bursting with holiday cheer, I wanted to take a break from all the rich, decadent and elaborate holiday meals and bring it back to simple, flavorful, healthy and warming comfort food. This meal is high in nutritional value, flavor, and is so simple: it’s a single pot meal that cooks up in just about 35 minutes. Lentils are one my favorite legumes – they are fiber and protein all stars! Just one cup of cooked lentils provides: 90% DV (daily value) of folate, 63% DV of fiber, 37% DV of iron, 36% DV of protein, 21% DV of potassium (plus 28% DV of vitamin B1, 25% DV of vitamin B5 and 21% DV of vitamin B6) – aka they are total powerhouses of nutrients. The spices in this meal are saffron and smoked paprika (pimeton), which are the major players in one my favorite Spanish dishes – paella. Here they lend a smokiness and earthiness (yeah, so weird but I couldn’t think of how to describe saffron, some connoisseurs say it has a metallic-honey, with grassy, or hay-like notes – idk, those descriptions sound suspect – but saffron is the BEST even though it is so dang expensive) to this dish. I like to describe this lentil dish as “stewp” – a hybrid between a soup and stew – perfect for serving with some crusty bread, or pouring over your favorite grain (brown rice, quinoa, farro, barley…you name it). YUM!

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Ingredients for Spanish-Style Lentils: veggie broth, lentils, onion, celery, carrots, saffron, and paprika. Not pictured: wine (bc I was totally drinking it straight out of the bottle to “taste” it), parley for garnish and a bay leaf or two.

Spanish Style Lentils Γ  la L

Ingredients

  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 – 3 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup of dried lentils, washed and picked over
  • 2 cups of veggie broth (or more, depending on how soup-y you like your stewp)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 tiny pinches of saffron (1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish
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All of the herbs/spices in a small bowl, with my finger for reference size. Saffron is SO expensive, so just add as much as you can spare, even one pinch will give pretty stellar flavor to the dish.

Directions

Step One: Heat the olive in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots for a few minutes, until they are softened (5 – 7 minutes)
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Saute the vegetables over medium heat until softened, about 6 minutes.

Step Two: Add the spices and saute for 1 minute.
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I accidently dumped my bay leaves in there while sauteing the spices. I would try to pick them out if you do the same (I did, only minorly burning my fingers), but it’s not a make-or-break situation. They can be put in with the veggie broth and wine.

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Give it a good stir to ensure that the spices are evenly distributed and get a nice little saute to pop the flavor up a few notches.

Step Three: Add the veggie broth, wine and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Stir in the lentils, and allow the mixture to simmer on medium-low heat, partially covered for about 35 minutes, or until the lentils have softened.
While you’re waiting, enjoy a glass of that dry red wine! πŸ˜‰
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Carefully add the veggie broth – I always start with 2 cups of broth and then add more if desired. This time I added an entire container of broth (4 cups) and the stewp was more on the soup end of the spectrum – great for dipping my crusty bread in there! πŸ™‚

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Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of wine. I added closer to 1/2 cup because I wanted more for drinking (duh).

Step Four: Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread or over your favorite grain, and enjoy!! πŸ˜€
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Enjoy your lentils with a glass of your leftover red wine!

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Add some fresh (or dried, in this case!) parsley for garnish.

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I served my lentils with crusty bread to dip into the stewp-y part. YUM!! SO goood! πŸ˜€

This “stewp” is balls to the wall amazing. It’s warm, comforting and versatile – you can make it more of a soup, or stew, depending on your preference. It’s an easy, one-pot meal that is one of my go-to’s for busy weeknight dinners. There isn’t much to it (but has that comforting earthiness), and the simmering time gives you enough downtime to enjoy a glass of that dry, red wine that you add. The perfect ending to a crazy day, if you ask me. πŸ˜€

I added some crusty, whole grain bread to it (and a glass of wine to savor), but as I mentioned before – don’t feel limited. Serve over a cup of wild rice, red quinoa, or farro if you’re looking for more of a stick-to-the-ribs stew. So, so delicious. It really hit the spot I was craving – healthy, flavorful, and filling. Perfect for an early December evening meal πŸ˜€

I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did last night! Yummmm!!! πŸ˜€

Happy Tuesday, all! ❀ πŸ™‚

xo,

L

The Star of Vegan Thanksgiving: Mushroom Gravy

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This mushroom gravy has been my saving grace at the last 17 Thanksgivings since I have become a vegetarian. It makes life so much better at holidays when everyone else’s plate is overflowing with options, and the lone vegetarian outlier is not just relegated to mashed potatoes and some puny veggie side dishes. Oh no sir, that is not how we do Thanksgiving over here. Nope. Not a chance. Thanksgiving is for vegetarians (and vegans! and gluten-free! folks), too. We are usually a pretty thankful bunch (and generally speaking, bring the fun to the party), and we enjoy participating in these holidays. This gravy was originally adapted from a Vegetarian Times recipe from a very, very long time ago and tweaked over the years by myself, my mom and my sister into the recipe you find here. Needless to say, it is freaking amazing, and has the ability to save even the most pathetic attempt at vegetarian stuffing that your aunt made you (so you can still eat it with a smile).

Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 onion (or 1-2 leeks), chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-16oz packages of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2-32oz containers of mushroom broth (or veggie broth)
  • Fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil (or your fave cooking oil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cornstarch for thickening

Directions

Step One: Heat oil in the bottom of a medium to large sauce pan. Add the onion and the garlic and saute for a few minutes. Once the onion has softened (about 7 minutes), slowly add the broth to the saucepan and bring it to a boil. I added one and a half containers (~6 cups). You can add as much or as little as you’d like, depending on how many people you are feeding.

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Β Step Two: Once the broth is boiling, add the fresh herbs, mushrooms and wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

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Step Three: Turn the heat to low and allow the mushroom mixture to simmer for 2 hours, covered. Remember that wine? I’d pour yourself a glass while you wait. You should still have at least 3/4 of a bottle left. πŸ˜‰
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Cheers, love! πŸ˜‰

Β Step Four: Thicken the gravy. (If you’d like, you can strain all of the herbs and mushrooms out of the gravy and serve them as a side dish at your meal. I stopped doing this several years ago because a) ain’t nobody got time for that; and b) the mushrooms in there are SO good! I prefer to just leave them be. If you don’t roll like that, then strain them out before you thicken the gravy). First, bring the gravy back up to a rolling boil. Then, pour a little corn starch into a small bowl (start with 1/4 cup of corn starch) slowly add water and whisk until it forms a paste. While whisking the boiling gravy, slowly pour the starch mixture and incorporate into the gravy (if you add it too fast, it will form lumps). Continue whisking and adding the corn starch mixture until you’ve thickened the gravy as much as you like. This part is completely up to you and your taste.

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Um, so this gravy is literally the best. If you don’t thicken it, you could seriously serve it as a soup it’s that good (just use an immersion blender to blend into a smooth texture, or just leave it be – it’s really THAT good). You can serve it with your Tofurkey, veggie stuffing, mashed potatoes – I legit drown my entire plate in this gravy on Thanksgiving. So. Friggin. Good.

The best part? You can make this up to a week ahead of time and simply reheat and serve on Thanksgiving/Chrismukkah/the day of your Holiday Party. Oh yes. It’s that simple.

Happy Thanksgiving/Black Friday Everyone! I hope you all had fabulous Thanksgiving celebrations with the ones you love ❀ I certainly did!!

Warm wishes,

L

Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry and Power Greens Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

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Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry & Power Greens Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Whew! That’s a mouthful right there.

If you ever peruse my Instagram photos, you would know that I got a pretty legit haul from the farm stand last week: local butternut squash and Cape Cod cranberries included. This weekend, I wanted to throw together a “one pot” meal that I could eat for lunches during this short week instead of my usual salad. I combined a few of my favorite things: roasted butternut squash and red onion, fresh cranberries, power greens (baby spinach, baby kale and swiss chard) and a really vibrant dressing to pull it all together with fresh orange juice and zest. The orange vinaigrette dressing in and of itself is really delicious, and it elevates the dish past a thrown together (fridge clean out-esque) veggie salad with quinoa. To add some crunch and extra protein, I added hemp seeds and chopped pecans. I bet almonds or hazelnuts would also be amazing here, as well. If you’re looking for an addition to your Thanksgiving meal, this would be a pretty solid contender. It’s delicious, packed with flavor, eye appeal (lots of colorful veggies!) and with just enough of a twist to keep it interesting, but still accessible enough to please a wide variety of palates. You’ve got a serious crowd pleaser right here. And furthermore, it’s loaded with antioxidants and vitamins (so you can feed the ones you love the things that will make their bodies happy).

Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry and Power Greens Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries
  • 5 oz container of power greens (baby spinach, baby kale and swiss chard)
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Dressing:

  • 1 large navel orange
  • zest of 1/2 the orange
  • 2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Step One: Roast the squash. Place the butternut squash and chopped onion into a shallow baking dish (large enough so the squash cubes are in one layer), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400Β°F for 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Stir at least once halfway through.
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The roasted squash should be tender enough to stick a fork in one of the pieces but not mushy.

Step Two: Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa. Boil 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Once the water is boiling, add the quinoa, cover and turn the pot down to low. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, then add the cranberries to the saucepan, stirring to incorporate. Cover the pot and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Once the quinoa is cooked, remove from the heat, keeping it covered.
Step Three: Make the dressing. Combine the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl (or in the blender). Whisk (or blend) until smooth. While whisking, add the olive oil slowly to create an emulsion. Transfer to a container for storage.
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Use a hand grater to zest half of the orange. You can zest the whole thing and place the other half of the orange zest into a plastic baggie and stick it in the to use at a later time for other recipes.

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I had white wine vinegar and used that, but (regular) balsamic vinegar would be great here too. I always have jars of chopped and minced garlic on hand in my fridge, so I just added 1 tsp of chopped garlic (the equivalent of one minced clove of garlic).

Step Four: Roughly chop the power greens and place into a large bowl. Add the warm quinoa mixture on top of the greens and toss together to allow the greens to wilt. Once the squash is done roasting, add the squash and onion to the salad and toss to mix. Add the hemp seeds and pecans, and dress the salad to taste with the orange vinaigrette dressing. I used about half of the dressing, and stored the other half in the refrigerator for use on other green salads.
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It’s important to keep the quinoa covered and warm so that it wilts the greens in the salad.

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Here is what mine looked like after all the ingredients were added. πŸ™‚ YUM!

Step Five: Enjoy!! πŸ˜€ Serve topped with extra chopped pecans and/or hemp seeds, or over a bed of greens, if desired.
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I served my salad over a bed of greens and topped with extra pecans. Delicious!

The blend of sweet, savory and tart proves to be a winning combination in this salad. The sweetness of the butternut squash is offset by the tart cranberries and the zesty orange dressing. The greens add a nice balance to the flavors, and the nuts/hemp seeds provide a great crunch to the texture of the salad. Overall, it is an amazing one pot meal that your family (and you!) will love. I am pretty stoked to have this for lunch today, not gonna lie. πŸ™‚ Soooo many delicious and nutritious things packed into this one dish – it’s a win all around.

Hope all of you are having a calm, stress-free day today as we near Thanksgiving.

With Warmth,

L

PS: Go Bills! We won! I Billeve!! Perfect gift for my dad’s birthday, thank you Bills! ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀